The Department of Health has confirmed that medicines are being stockpiled and extra ferry capacity looked at to get them to Northern Ireland in the event of a No Deal Brexit.
The confirmation comes as the Department of Health (DoH)responded to questions raised by Derry Sinn Féin Councillor Sandra Duffy over contingency plans for patients.
Colr Duffy called on the DoH to be ‘open and transparent’ on the stockpiling of medicines and its preparations for a crash out Brexit.
Ahead of a meeting with Departmental officials, the party’s Health spokesperson was commenting after a British government assessment highlighted that their medicine supply flow could be as low as 40%.
She said: “These revelations are deeply concerning for the supply of medicines but also for the contingency plans already announced by the Department of Health in the North.
“In recent months shortage notices have been issued for adrenaline auto-injectors or epi-pens due to production issues which will get significantly worse in the result of a no-deal Brexit.
“The Department of Health needs to make it clear that the stockpiling of medicines is an admission of a disastrous policy direction at the behest of London.
“It needs to be open with the public of the potential impacts and what preparations have been made if the North is crashed out of the EU on October 31 by the Tories.”
In a response issued to the ‘Journal’, a DoH spokeswoman said: “The safety of people receiving health and social care services is our top priority and the Department continues to be engaged in contingency planning for a range of scenarios for exiting from the EU, including a ‘no-deal’ scenario.
“Plans are being taken forward, led by the Department of Health and Social Care in London, which aim to maintain supplies of medicines and medical devices to patients across the UK, including Northern Ireland, in the event of a no-deal EU exit.
“This multilayered approach encompasses a range of activities including (but not limited to) warehousing, buffer stocks and procurements for extra ferry capacity and an express freight service for medicines and medical products.
“There are already robust systems in place to manage medicines shortages, which in the context of a globalised market for medicines can and do happen for many reasons unrelated to EU Exit. The Department is working with UKG to further strengthen these systems.
“At this stage, we do not anticipate any immediate impact on day-to-day provision of health and social care services. People do not need to do anything new or different, and should continue to order their prescriptions from their doctor in the normal way.”
We appreciate this is an uncertain time for all citizens and would re-iterate that detailed contingency planning continues to be a matter of high priority.”